Commonwealth Service 2018
On Monday 12 March, members from 4th Poynton Brownies and 3rd Elworth Guides made the exciting journey to London to join 700 children and young people from across the UK in celebration of Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey. It was a very early start for us all as we travelled by train to London.
The Guides then travelled on the underground with Claire to Green Park and stopped off for photos at Buckingham Palace. Next stop was Portcullis House where they had to go through security checks and then had a private tour of the Palace of Westminster. The weather was not very kind so after a quick vote it was off to Macdonald’s for lunch before walking to Westminster Abbey.
4th Poynton Brownies had special part to play. They went from Euston straight to Westminster Abbey with Nicky. When they arrived they had a tour of the Abbey and then had to take part in rehearsals as they had the honour of escorting the Commonwealth flag as part of the procession service. Alyssia, a member of 4th Poynton Brownies, said: “It was one of the most exciting days of my life. I really enjoyed being part of the special service and seeing the royal family.”
The Commonwealth Service celebrated the 2018 Commonwealth theme of ‘Towards a Common Future,’ looking forward to The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this Spring. The aim of the Service was to celebrate the unity, diversity and linkages of the modern Commonwealth and foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role. The event is the largest annual multi-faith Service in the UK and was attended by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle and other senior members of The Royal Family.
Highlights of the Service included a special performance by UK artist Liam Payne and a reflection by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, an eye surgeon who turned a smartphone into an examination tool that works to combat avoidable blindness in developing counties. The event also featured performances by Jaspreet Kaur, an award-winning spoken word artist, the London-based collective of Ghanaian musicians and dancers, One-Drum, the Portsmouth Gospel Choir, finalists in BBC One’s Pitch Battle television show, and the Ngāti Rānana London Maori Club. Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation included the UK Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon Theresa May MP, the Prime Minister of Malta, The Hon Dr Joseph Muscat MP, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland QC, alongside senior politicians, dignitaries and diplomatic representatives from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and over 800 schoolchildren and young people.
Jenny from 3rd Elworth Guides said: “The thing I enjoyed the most was the private tour round the Houses of Parliament. I liked it because we saw all the rooms where they debate and make decisions and we saw where one of the suffragettes hid. I thought the tour was amazing and we learnt so much. The actual ceremony in Westminster Abbey was incredible! All the choirs were amazing and the fact that the royal family and The Queen were right in front of me is unimaginable. I loved the whole trip and it was a once in a lifetime experience.”
After the service we also met up with Rainbows and Guides from Stockport County who had also attended the Service.
We were both honoured and proud to represent Girlguiding at the Commonwealth Service, and to take our Brownies and Guides was one of those mountain top moments in guiding. The girls were definitely on a high as we met back at Euston, no chance of sleeping on the train home and are still talking about the day now. What incredible memories for all of us to treasure.
Claire & Nicky